Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I've reviewed my days in search of blogworthy events and indeed I have found none; and so I will blog mundanely about the mundane events that currently occupy my time which include, but are not limited to, watching kitten grow and learn, dog/cat sitting for my dad, transcription work, organizing my closet, reading The Three Musketeers and completing random shifts at work. Gosh, when I put it all down like that it sounds quite boring. I must assure you, gentle readers, that I am full of excitement and vigor!

Kitten had another scary episode the other day. Upon observing her slip into a semi-conscious state wherein she panted, drooled and twitched I researched, panicked, on the net and confirmed my suspicions. Her symptoms matched those that I described in the previous blog simply as "a very good impression of a kitten that is going to die soon," only they were much more severe. After reviewing a few websites, I concluded she was simply hypoglycemic, and so took the internet's advice and rubbed maple syrup on her gums (didn't have "Karo" syrup, which I guess is the stuff of choice for hypoglycemic kittens. I'd say they don't have much of a choice. She's lucky it wasn't "Lite" syrup, or raspberry flavored, or something similarly horrid). When I took her to the E-vet I was told that this was a wise move, and it did the trick.

E-vet stands for either expensive vet or emergency vet; one and the same. Long story short, the milk we've been giving her is not getting her the right sort of nutrients, or enough of them, and even though I'm supplementing it with dry/softened kitten food, she's not getting enough caloric intake. Thus the hypoglycemia. Well maybe if she'd calm down we wouldn't have this problem!

Obviously, this kitten is becoming very expensive. Here's where the transcription comes in. Typing typing typing all day lets me spend time with Kitten without making me feel like I'm wasting time (you know, wasting time just staring at her, cos she she's so flippin cute) because after all, I'm making money. She attacks my foot, which taps rhythmically on the dictaphone's foot pedal. The lines I've typed pay for the veterinarian instructions and follow ups.

I admit I was arrogant and selfish when I took this Kitten in; enjoying her cuteness and her fondness/need for me, because I wielded the great big bottle in the sky. I figured, I've handled kittens several times, I got this one in the bag. And here I'm doing it wrong, and got a decent slapintheface reality check when I had to tell the e-vet upon entering the facility "I think my kitten is going to die soon, please help." Gosh, if only you could have seen her. There isn't much more heartbreaking than a kitten that looks like its going to die, unless its a kitten that looks like its going to die and its your fault. I kept screwing up my face the whole ride there, fighting back tears because I couldn't help imagining the worst-something I do too often, I admit.

The last time we'd made the ride to the e-vet we left with a dead cat, James Bond Jr, whose still-warm limbs stuck out from its flip flopping body like knitting needles from a pile of yarn; like a deflated bagpipe. I don't think either of us have recovered from this, and the sting was worse when the vet tech, unknowingly, put us in the same room Bond breathed his last breath in on September 15. It was a treacherous trip that night to Meijer, at 1 in the morning, to buy shovels. I have never breathed this out loud...but when I laid him in the little grave we dug, he was still warm.

This is making me sad.

* * *

I am going camping the next two weekends, and then a canoe trip for Floyd's berfday. I've often found tranquil woods more condusive to introspective writing than any solid reading, and so I am bringing along the latest dollar store notebook to fill up with one liners and quips, dates to remember and "deep" thoughts. Or maybe I'll just play with fireworks and magnesium. Stranger things have happened.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Das Kitten

On Monday when I came home for lunch to check on Kitten she was doing a very good impression of a kitten that is going to die soon. Since I didn't have a Kitten Oscar to give her for her excellent performance, I opted for my second choice, the Kitten Paramedics. The vet took her in right away (love this place--they're the same ones who only charged us $20 for an office visit when Dog chewed cinderblocks) and agreed with me that the kitten "ain't right" (my words, not hers).

Now, I fed Kitten before getting her to the vet--she had an appetite and was purring, but was also doing a lot twitching and making very strange sounds. She would start to to run and then collapse over on herself like a drunk ass. When I called for the appointment that's pretty much exactly how I put it: "Do you have a diagnosis for a twitchy kitten making alien noises?" This seemed to alarm the woman on the phone, thus the immediate appointment.

Of course, once the appointment is made, Kitten begins to behave (as much as the lil varmint can--she has been called Satan Kitty on occasion). She played nicely in her box the whole way there, and was fairly congenial with everyone (she had the entire staff melting, she's so cute) until the vet started to poke and prod at her. The vet called her "grumpy" and I took offense, as I would be grumpy too if you took my temperature that way.

What concerned the vet was Kitten's apparent lack of anything resembling motor control. Granted, she is only four weeks old; even still, she's a bit more "wobbly" than your average kitten (she has been called Drunk Kitty on occasion). This means there is something neurological going on. The vet used scary words that started with "cerebral" and ended with "--phasia" with a few daunting syllables inbetween, but it really just means wobbly.

She also used the term "head trauma" and asked if Kitten may have hit her head on something. Memories of kitten running full bore into the wall came to mind (she has been called Kamikaze Kitty on occasion), and then another memory of an unidentified 'thud' in the middle of the night. "It's possible" I shrugged. But this is OK, vet said, b/c Kittens brains are not fuly connected in all the right ways, so if they get shaken up, there's usually not any permanent damage done.

There is the mystery, however, of the kitten being found alone without a mother or siblings. Did Mama cat know Kitten "weren't right"? Possible birth defect. I am to keep an eye on Kitten, who is doing a better job of keeping an eye on me as she helps me type this blog. I am encouraged that despite her lack of motor skills she is practicing her leaps and her climbing and best of all, her purring.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Anything but transcription

Medical transcription is tedious work, in case anyone wondered. What's worse in this scenario, is that even though I have the day off from work at the office, I have my boss's voice transported into my living room via this lil electronic device. Ugh. Of course, I do try to fiddle with the speed of the tape, so that he might sound like one of the chipmunks (I wish I could type fast enough to keep up!) and once, accidently, I slowed it down too much and nearly threw the machine across the room cos suddenly my boss was doing a very good Barry White impression (*eek!*).

And so instead of listening to my boss talk about patients on my day off, I am surfing around Amazon and blogging, and blogging about surfing around on Amazon: I am never sure how early to buy my books for the next semester. The good student on my left shoulder tells me to buy them now and peruse them in preparation for the semester. The hillbilly/ruffian on my right shoulder says something to the effect of "*@#!"

I've actually been doing a good job of reading this summer--mainly intros to norton/longman, and other various books I've accumulated--as vague preparation for a GRE in the semi-near future. In addition, I am enjoying Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time (yay, string theory!), not reading The Three Musketeers despite my book group discussion about it tomorrow, and stumbling through The Book of Marjery Kempe.

Part of my hesitation regarding Amazon ordering is the fact that I'm pretty much completely out of room for books in my house, without purchasing another book case and thus re-arranging and cleaning where I've rearranged, and its all quite exhausting just typing about it. Then it occurs to me that there's large number of books on my shelves that I just need to get rid of. Again I say, eek. The idea is terrifying...I mean, just how does one get rid of a book? Here is where my nerdiness, or perhaps my pretentiousness, comes to a hilt. There is a growing list of books that have been on my shelf for years and never opened; those that I saved from undergraduate classes that I figure I might use again at some point; those that were vaguely recommended at some point, or cross-listed with another book I've enjoyed or studied...do I really keep all of these? I like to think of having my very own reference library, and yet this hardly works, because when I need to do that sort of thing--you know, research--I find myself at the "real" library. Plus there's the internet, lots of readable texts there...And so while I have worked long and hard to accumulate such a diverse array of books, I think they have become simply more 'familiar' in the home than actually 'useful' and it will soon come time to shed a few pounds in the literary area.

I sold some books on Amazon, but a lot of what I have left isn't worth much--a random novel here or there doesn't fetch much. There's a "free book" shelf at school but I always feel its more reserved for faculty, even though I've "snuck" a few on there from time to time. There's also a local bookstore that happily takes books, by the box load, in exchange for store credit.

Just what I need.

(On a side note, the owner guy is kinda creepy--he talks to me about Jesus and yet, when a certain friend of mine visits that store, the owner brings him to the secret old-school porn section).

And I am off to type s'more and worry my aching neck.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Things that currently occupy my time

Since it has heated up around these parts, my brain has vaporized. It's that wonderful part of the year when everything that touches me leaves its impression on me in sweat. When I drive there's a seatbelt streak across my chest; when I want to get up after sitting, even for just a moment, I have to allow time to peel myself off of the chair's surface.
I have air conditioning in my Rustbucket of Doom. Yep. I turn it up on high and roll up the windows (well, all except the passenger side one, it doesn't do mucha anything). Steaming hot air pours out of the vents and my skin feels like it might blister. I usually can only keep the air on for a red light, or a city block--aw hell who'm I kidding? I count to ten as fast as I can then shut the damned thing off! But after sitting through that, the ninety degree, damp saturated air is a breath of fresh air.
In other news, I have picked up some extra work transcribing, and so its killing me to sit here in type when I'm not "on the clock" per se. Thus, I am working on photo blogging. Here is my week, in a nutshell:
Burning Magnesium makes for an oh-so-bright yard (I still crack up when I see all the empty chairs--they were only just recently vacated when this shot was taken, on account of the big-assed bright fahr).

Then there were a few decent storms, during which I stood guard on my front porch to make sure that if a funnel cloud forms over the top of my house, I would be the *first* to know about it (note: I have irrational fears of funnel clouds forming directly over my house) On a more practical note, I have larger, insurance related fears about people parking in the grass.

To give you some perspective-the dog weighs 95 lbs and stands about 2 1/2-3 ft off the ground (he won't stand up for me to measure him right now. It's late, I guess).

And of course, Wondercat helps to investigate, too.

Enough of that.

Grankids came to visit. They come in droves.
I tried giving teaching piano lessons.
Unfortunately, this is my most interested client, my namesake:

While we were busy on the piano, her older brother found me a kitten.
I took her home.

I've got her name narrowed down to one of the two:

"We are Not Keeping this Kitten"


"But YOU got a Motorcycle."

Monday, June 9, 2008

A strange weekend, every year.

Old Neighborhood Annual Garage Sale.

This year I did not walk around much. I did not purchase a single thing; I did not even stop by a garage sale to turn my nose up at audacious book prices (that guy last year on Pothead Avenue wanted $2 for a paperback. I don't care if it was a classic, I told him he was an idgit--in no uncertain terms, and wished him luck with his flimsy sale. I do not wonder why my husband is not anxious to accompany me on such second hand endeavours).

My friends and I used to count down the days until the festival, and save up our dollars to spend on elephant ears and random trinkets. One year I bought about a dozen Beatles 45's for a quarter apiece. I had counted on them to make me big bucks. They now decorate my staircase. I did make big bucks, however, playing the flute on the street corner, and even wound up in the local paper a few times (apparently this time of year yields slow news days).

The nights that the festivities cooled down were always the most torturous to me. These were the times in which I would sit on my front porch and watch the passerby. I'd look curiously, if not longingly, at those college-aged individuals with bumper stickers on their cars, be-cigaretted and be-sunglassed and be-going-to-a-party-I-was-too-young-to-hope-to-go-to and hope that I would one day be in their number. Some days I wonder if I've ever grown out of this.

My favorite moment, however, was never the festival itself, wherein I felt like a tourist in my own neighborhood (and at the same time one who entertains tourists), but in the days following--when litter drifted across the streets once again trafficked by cars (having been blocked off for two days). Old bookcases and dressers. those with too many stickers and carvings on them to make the sale, decorated the curbsides.

And so, in my own tradition, I took a long walk today the silence following the festival is as refreshing as the moment of silence when you turn off the vacuum cleaner. I reviewed the avenues that adorned my adolescence, and found myself in a range of emotion. It's always faintly sad, to revisit such places, particularly when alone (otherwise you can distract yourself by showing off funny stories about the people who used to live in certain houses, etc). Today my t-shirt showed the sweat on my back, as it was the hottest part of the day; my feet have two new blisters because I walked many, many blocks.

The festival. This year saw the departure of another older brother, one whom I do not believe has left the neighborhood since our family's first encounters there, roughly 15 years ago. Apparently he has tired of living in the so-called "artists residence" (despite the few legitimate artists there, this place is more appropriately realized as a party haven for underaged and spoiled kids who play guitar or make crappy youtube films and call it art) and, thankfully, is moving out. On the slightly more awkward edge of that--he moved today to a semi-distant city with his girlfriend who, up until recently, I simply referred to as "Lil Miss Hotpants." She needed a nickname: tall, slender, attractive blonde, with a fresh law degree though obviously not a brain in her head cos she's dating the dimpled dorkbrain, my brother.

I wasn't much help packing, but I fed them pizza. I also insisted that the long-legged-wonder walk over two blocks (it only takes her two steps) and meet my parents since, after all, she's moving away with my brother. I don't think that's being unreasonable. Who ever said little sisters couldn't be as demanding and domineering as their big brothers? (Don't worry, I already asked her about her GPA. She passed my test, but barely.)

My parents were unusually gracious, especially given the circumstances, i.e "Hi, nice to meet you. Oh, you're moving tomorrow?" I was gracious enough not to point out the blaring double standard evident in the comparison between this reaction to "shacking up", and their reaction to myself when I moved in with the man who is now my husband (i.e. sound of shotgun being loaded, literally. Please give Floyd all due props).

Brother and Beautiful Blonde are gone now. I stopped by earlier. I had promised to help clean, and understood that they weren't actually moving until Tuesday morning. Monday afternoon I found the house empty. This made me feel more like a little sister than ever. I missed the boat. I put down my bucket of cleaning schtuff and took a walk. I stopped in several treelawns to examine telephone poles, and review the posts.

he's boxed up his staples and staple guns, my brother has, and so his occasionally profound poetry will no longer grace the telephone poles of the neighborhood in which we grew up.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Minutes of book group meeting, sorta.

The so-called "book group" hit the ground running yesterday. The large majority of discussion hinged on matters of menfolk, adventures in the working world, and random bits of hilarity punctuated by requests for more Newcastles. At certain intervals we would return to the book and discuss its nuances and themes, and even take notes on the grandiose thoughts that spewed forth from our master's degrees, such as:

"Who was the third Musketeer?"

"Well, there's Athos, Porthos...and Abednego! But, who was that fourth guy?"

You mean Donatello?"


Genius, I tell you. Genius. Almost as good as last week's tattoo. On to the book (which actually is not The Three Amigos-er, Musketeers-as the previous conversation would have you believe. Like I said, there were digressions)... Haven Kimmel's She Got Up Off the Couch is the sequel to the New York Times Bestseller A Girl Named Zippy and, for anyone interested in a lighthearted romp through the heart of the Midwest--told in the voice and perspective of an exuberant young girl--this is the book to read.

Comprised of seemingly unrelated episodes of the young girl, Zippy's, life, this book makes us love and appreciate her, as we become familiar with the architecture of her family and town. The matter-of-fact narration makes for some hilarious and endearing moments, for instance, Zip describes a woman cooking with persimmons: "she even made something with the word "pudding" in the title although of course it was not real pudding because it wasn't chocolate and hadn't come from a box. I was too polite to point the truth out."

The plot moves forward as Zippy observes the progress of her mother, Delonda Jarvis, through college--from the decision to "Get up Off of The Couch" to earning her Master's degree in English and finally, teaching. Concurrently, or perhaps I should say consequently, Zip's parents' marriage lands in the trash bin~I can't say this is a spoiler, as the fact seems apparent from the very beginning of the book. Her father's first dialogue in the book, well towards the end of the first chapter, is a response to watching his wife drive off with a friend to take the College entrance test: "Time was, a woman wouldn't have gotten in a man's marriage that way."

Despite her father's chauvinism and self-centeredness (he always managed to have nice, new clothes, while his daughter trompsed about in second hand everything, even wearing his old shirts, which she was swimming in), we must be careful not to write this man off. His character develops subtely throughout the tales, and we see him through the tender eyes of his daughter, who adores him despite all of our reasons she shouldn't. We don’t often see Delonda communicating directly with her daughter; instead, Zippy narrates her mother's telephone conversations with friends, or discussions with professors. This indirect source of information continues throughout the book, although we see the two bond when Zip accompanies her mother on campus.

[I must depart from the book for a moment here, to express the nostalgia that this book stirred up in me (and my sister, too, I daresay, as she recommended it to me). How often did I sit at the bottom of the stairs, eavesdropping, or even overtly lying on the bed with her, while my mother called her friends from school and church to discuss the important matters of school and church. I loved it when I got to go to classes with my mother. I'd sit there with my multiplication tables, or some scrap paper and crayons, and ignore the old professor who wouldn't stop talking. She would often introduce me afterwards, because she always had follow-up questions to the lectures. Like Zippy said "I went right on hating school as much as any vegetable left in vinegar, but Lord I loved college." Less than ten years later, I sat in the exact same lecture halls, on my own, and finally understood why my mom took me with her: It's scary. ]

Delonda Jarvis' example of stubborn dedication is undeniably a source of inspiration to her two daughters. While they worried about her in the rickety car during her commute, and their complete lack of money, very early in the book, Delonda's influence is felt in Zip's realization: "I knew I should still be worried, but I suddenly felt that anything was possible, and that most things, though certainly not all, would turn out okay."

The dichotomy between youth and age runs throughout the scenarios and, as some of us may relate to, Zippy pinpoints the exact moment as a child when she realized that her life and body would change, too, in the course of time. She was no longer invincible after this realization, and not much later breaks her arm to a horrific extent in a roller-skating accident--I might add how thankful I am that someone finally exposed the true danger of the rollerskating "whip."

Also prevalent in the book is the narrator's wavering stance on Christianity. Zip makes enough knocks at the Bible to make one wonder at her faith, but parries these with some profound observations of the influence of Christ in her life. She sees through the fraudulence of some religious practices, both by her peers and by adults--when she is forced to go to church camp she is the only one who does not accept Christ as her Savior. She also seems to be the only one aware that many of these young women were simply using their conversions as alibis--that after they dedicated themselves to Christ they found it easier to sneak off in the woods with their boyfriends, because no one would suspect them...

In the midst of her aversion to religion, the young girl obviously seeks something larger; "it seemed to me that there was something gigantic going on and it was near to me and also very far away." And so we see the ruminations of a young girl contemplating Christ, or God, or what-have-you--whichever you choose, and whether you are believer or not, I daresay this is something most of us have experienced at some point.

The book weaves about with hilarious and heat-rending tales of small-town life; Haven Kimmel retells the story of childhood with some rural Midwestern distinctions--the fear of tornadoes, the occasional run-in with an angry bull, a perfect wonderment at the number of cats and dogs on a farm (let alone the barn animals) and a general familiarity with farm life, horrendous blizzards, and of course, the rite of passage in which we play with tape recorders. This is a quick, light-hearted read, though it contains some darker overtones. I highly recommend it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hurt--an excercise in Modern dance

Perhaps its the amount of Johnny Cash I've been hearing lately, as my husband teaches himself guitar, but this piece really struck a chord wtih me.

I've got the dancing blues

I have gone through phases in my dance life, between complete stagnance, and then on the other end of the spectrum when I danced upwards of 25 hours a week (oh, that lovely Humanities Senior Thesis!). By all measure, this is a "time of plenty" in my dance life. I am involved in two sectors of the same company. The first component is paired with a drum ensemble; we perform traditional west-African, Haitian and Carribean dance. The second part of the company is one bent on choreographing and dancing in the Modern style.

Lately, I must tell you, I have been experiencing some difficulty in my enjoyment of dance. I rehearse at least twice a week, and perform at venues in varying levels of grandeur at least every two months (whether it be a small showing at an elementary school, or a blowout at the Art Museum).

And yet, despite a seemingly comfortable schedule, I am, somewhat unsatisfied. Part of this comes from the rehearsal schedule itself, which coincides with great chunks of time in which I could be spending quality time with the man; we rarely see each other during the week (AHA! It wasn't just school!) and so the weekends are spent stealing moments between rehearsal time and running errands.

On top of the scheduling factor is the general upkeep of rehearsal time. It is not well spent. There are far too many breaks for discussion--whether or not it is related to dance. I am guilty in participation, so I must limit my disdain. What truly frustrates me, however, is the time sometimes spent vocalizing our way through the movements, rather than just doing them.

Part of my vexation, I do believe, could be partially assuaged if I were to become more aggressive with my own choreography. I have attempted a few times to introduce new pieces to the group, and for one reason or another I falter. It has to do with lack of confidence and fearing that I am boring the group; however, I absolutely need to get this out of my head. As much as I truly ADORE [most of] the choreography with which I am presented, it is essential to maintain a large amount of diversity and eclectic movement within a dance company. I need to color the repertoire with my choreography.

The latest piece we are working on is to the music of "Dead Can Dance" and, reflecting the cold detachment of the vocals, vaguely depicts the stillness of winter. One of the pieces I attempted to introduce is largely based on summertime feel, and I would like to re-incorporate it now, as a contrast to the winter bit. It's a bit I presented in one of my choreography classes a million years ago, set to "Steppin Razor" (the Sublime version, actually, not Peter Tosh). In addition to this (now I'm gettin too big fer my britches) I'd like to see the group come up with autumn and spring pieces.

Perhaps the seasons are hackneyed, I admit. But a unifying theme through a few of our pieces would be lovely, in my opinion. Besides all that, a little side project of my own might just be what I need to get me out this dance rut. It's unfair to have a "rut" experience in the one activity that is meant to enliven and inspire.

Speaking of inspiration, I thought I'd share something that I enjoyed this evening. I've seen Alvin Ailey Company twice now , and they are beyond magnificent. When all else fails when one is seeking inspiration, youtube search "modern dance" :)

Here's a blurb, first off, from http://www.alvinailey.org/page.php?p=bal_d&sec=aaadt&v=30:

Alvin Ailey said that one of America’s richest treasures was the cultural heritage of the African-American - ”sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.” This enduring classic is a tribute to that heritage and to Ailey’s genius. Using African-American religious music - spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues - this suite fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.

and here's the video link to its dramatic opening piece: